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Acronyms, All Stars and Analysis

The Little League World Series is flying by like a ball hit off the bat of Yankee Giancarlo Stanton. Earlier this month the Pinstriper hit a home run against the Texas Rangers that registered an exit velocity of 121.7 miles per hour. If you like numbers and analysis, baseball is definitely the game for you. Although in today’s world, I think they’ve gone a little bit overboard with what is called sabermetric evaluation. There seems to be a formula associated with an acronym to evaluate every aspect of America’s pastime. There are not enough pages within Webb Weekly to go through all of them.

Back in the day, it was simple; there was BA – batting average, OBP – on-base percentage, ERA – earned run average. FP – Fielding percentage, and maybe throw in a little SLG, slugging percentage. Obviously, there were a few more, but they were the main statistics. I always looked forward to reading MLB’s complete stat line in Sunday’s Sun-Gazette or Grit.

In today’s baseball world, there are WAR, BABIP, BSR, RE 24, and the list goes on and on. I won’t bore you with the definitions. Although I do like OPS, which is a combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Who created sabermetrics? My first guess was an accounting firm working for Major League agents negotiating contracts. That is a much too simple answer. Back to those acronyms, it was actually created by SABR – The Society of American Baseball. Which also is the acronym for? You guessed it, sabermetrics.

I still like the old eyeball test when it comes to evaluating talent, coupled with the simple stat lines of yesteryear. For instance, Rick Porcello is having a heck of a season for the Boston Red Sox, although some of his numbo jumbo/SABR isn’t that great. Jimmy and I saw all we needed to know during a recent trip to Citizens Bank Park when he took the mound against the Phillies. Yes, he pitched a great game. His stuff was electric. However, it was the double he hit and finished with a headfirst slide that tells you about the ballplayer. We had never seen a major league pitcher go Pete Rose, let alone one that doesn’t usually bat due to the American League use of the DH — Designated Hitter. I’m sure Red Sox skipper Alex Cora wasn’t too happy about it. But he can pitch for my team any day.

The best thing that happened during the Sox 2-1 win over the Phillies was when a couple of Philly fans created a human wheelbarrow to reach a foul ball down the left field line. The young man that retrieved the ball promptly gave it to a little girl wearing a Boston Red Sox hat. That will not appear in any box score but is what baseball is all about.

Back to statistical analysis. The only numbers that really matter are that of the final score, and how many wins you have in the left-hand column. And we can all figure those out.

Sticking with that numbers topic, my editor, and loyal Atlanta Braves fan, Steph Nordstrom, recently wore a shirt to work that had 6+4+3=2. Can you figure it out? At first, I thought it probably had some reference to President Trump’s use of math. I hate to admit this, but I then had to ask her about the equation.

If you guessed the pitcher’s best friend, a 6-shortstop, to 4-second baseman, to 3-first baseman, double play equating to two outs, you are correct.

I’ll finish up with some fun facts about the Little League World Series. Hopefully, the team you’re rooting for is moving on to International or US Championship play. In the previous 71-year history of the LLWS 703 teams have visited Williamsport and South Williamsport made up of 9,617 players. The teams representing the International Bracket hold a 37-34 advantage over the United States in the LLWS Championship Game. The Little League dynasty of Chinese Taipei/Taiwan has won the most LLWS championships with 17. California has represented the US as National Champs 11 times, the most of any state. The largest attendance for a game was an estimated 45,716 for the US final in 2015. Lewisberry, PA defeated Pearland Texas 3-2. The largest estimated attendance for the two weeks of the LLWS, 469,964, was also in 2015. Tokyo, Kitasamo Little League, defeated Red Land Little League of Lewisberry, PA for the LLWS crown that year.

As far as best hitting performances, most home runs hit in the LLWS — seven by Chin-Hsiung Hsieh in 1996 by Chinese Taipei. Most RBIs — 16 by Chin-Hsiung Hsieh in 1996 and Chin-Hsiang in 1995 also of Chinese Taipei. Most hits — 14 by Bradley Smith, West Petaluma, California in 2012 and Kiko Garcia, West Chula Vista, California in 2009.

On the pitching side of things, most wins in a LLWS — four, by Kyle Carter, Columbus, Georgia in 2006. Most strikeouts — 44 by Aaron Alvey, Louisville, Kentucky in 2002. Most innings pitched — 22 by Aaron Alvey, including nine no-hit innings in the National Semifinal. His team went on to win 2 to 1 in 11 innings.

So there’s a look at some of the greatest numbers in Little League World Series history, no sabermetrics required. The most important number cannot be calculated; the number of smiles Little League Baseball brings folks worldwide.

To all those in town for the Little League World Series, I wish you great times, good luck and safe travels home.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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